What makes us … na­ture or nur­ture?

An ex­tra­or­di­nary new doc­u­men­tary about iden­ti­cal triplets who were separated at birth has reignited the de­bate over the dom­i­nance of DNA in con­trol­ling our be­hav­iour and the way we live our lives

The Observer - - News - Robin McKie

Robert Shafran’s first inkling that his life would soon be turned on its head oc­curred on his first day at col­lege in up­state New York in 1980. His fel­low stu­dents greeted him like a lon­glost friend. “Guys slapped me on the back, girls hugged and kissed me,” he re­calls. Yet Robert had never set foot in­side Sul­li­van County Com­mu­nity Col­lege un­til that day.

An­other stu­dent, Eddy Gal­land, who had stud­ied at the col­lege the pre­vi­ous year, was the cause of the con­fu­sion, it tran­spired. Eddy was his spit­ting im­age, said class­mates. Robert was in­trigued and went to Eddy’s home to con­front him.

“As I reached out to knock on the door, it opened – and there I am,” says Robert, re­call­ing his first meet­ing with Eddy in the forth­com­ing doc­u­men­tary Three Iden­ti­cal Strangers.

The two young men had the same facial fea­tures, the same heavy build, the same dark com­plex­ions, the same mops of black curly hair – and the same birth­day: 12 July 1961. They were iden­ti­cal twins, a fact swiftly con­firmed from hospi­tal records. Each knew he had been adopted but nei­ther was aware he had a twin. Their story made head­lines across the US.

One reader – David Kell­man, a stu­dent at a dif­fer­ent col­lege – was par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested. Robert and Eddy also looked as­ton­ish­ingly like him. So he con­tacted Eddy’s adop­tive mother, who was stunned to come across, in only a few weeks, two young men who were iden­ti­cal in ap­pear­ance to her son. “My God, they

Iden­ti­cal triplets (from left) Eddy Gal­land, David Kell­man and Robert Shafran, who were separated at birth.Neon Films

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